As soon as I heard that highly talented director Scott Stewart and Britain's greatest movie star Paul Bettany were re-teaming for a movie after the apocalypse based laughathon that was Legion (think fallen angels fighting the undead - and old ladies so that Dennis Quaid can help a waitress give birth to Jesus) I got rather quite excited.
Then promptly forgot all about it.
Until that is it popped thru my door yesterday.
Dir: Scott Stewart.
Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, Cam Gigandet, Alan Dale, Christopher Plummer, Maggie Q, Stephen Moyer, Madchen Amick and Lily Collins.
|"After all, if you're not committing sin... you're not having fun".|
So let's start with a little info-dump to get us up to speed...
For hundreds of years (and quite possibly even longer), humans and vampires have been involved in a bitter conflict which has devastated the planet's surface, causing even the smallest town to have a sheen of 80's post apocalyptic pop video about it.
The surviving humans live within giant walled cities ruled by The Church and protected by an elite group of warrior priests; mere mortals blessed by God with super human wire fighting skills and sexy black outfits.
After the final battle the majority of vampires were destroyed with the remainder placed in big underground silo's on reservations, therefore saving on the CG budget by not having them wandering around making all manner of faux pas at dinner parties.
With the war over, the creepy clergy, led by Monsignor Brian Orelas (Plummer obviously skint) disbanded the priests and sent them off to be retrained as binmen and children's entertainers etc. whilst beyond the cities walls, humankind live on in relative freedom and a collection of western style outfits.
Got all that?
Good, so let's go.
|"Where's me washboard?"|
One rainy Sunday afternoon, lost soul and ex- priest Brian (Bettany, nuff said) is approached by Brian Hicks (Gigandet from Burlesque), the (almost adolescent) sheriff of the nearby town of Augustine.
It appears that the priest's brother True Blood's Moyer) Owen's farm has been attacked by the vile vamps; Owen is at death's door whilst his wife Shannon (Twin peaks Amick) is lying dead in a ditch and his daughter Lucy (ex Genesis drummer Collins) has been kidnapped.
Which as you can probably tell is fairly annoying for our hero.
Partly thru' family honour but mainly because the script calls for it our priestly chum approaches the clergy in the vain hope of having his holy authority to kick vamp arse reinstated, but Orelas is far to busy fiddling with kids to listen, sending our hero on his way with a bee in his ear and lump in his throat.
Not only that but he also bans Bettany from taking any action or starting any fights of any kind.
|"Adele number one from Christmas! Monsta!"|
Slightly annoyed at this course of (non) action and realising the movie has gone 20 minutes without an action scene Priest Paul heads of to Augustine in order to hitch up with Hicks and avenge his family.
But as is always the way with these things, a slightly annoyed Orelas sends a group of the priests former comrades to track him down and bring him back.
Dead or alive.
And hopefully with his career still intact.
After a quick goodbye to his (by now fairly smelly) brother and a blink and miss it cameo from Lord Brad of Dourif, Paul the priest and hop-along Hicks head off to the Nightshade Reservation where vampire obsessed humans (all looking scarily like Jah Wobble) live alongside and serve the surviving vampires.
Which is quite lucky for our heroes (and the director) because it means even less GCI to deal with than earlier.
After questioning a few of these familiars regarding the whereabouts of the missing vamps, the priest gets annoyed and kills everyone before waiting till sundown and butchering the remaining blood suckers too.
But not until discovering the the vicious vamps have returned to their hive in Sola Mira, the site of a botched mission where our religious right-doer lost his best pal, the enigmatic Basil Black Hat (Urban).
They soon arrive (everything is within handy 5 minutes montage sequence away) at the hive where they're joined by the sexy Pauline Priestess (Q, but not the one from Star Trek), who due to being in love with our hero decides to help him on his mission rather than kill him.
Which is nice.
Between them the priests destroy the hive's guard dog and manage to discover the vampires plan which involves them digging a big tunnel out of the hive, building a train and taking it to the city where a lack of sunlight means that they'll be able to eat everyone with impunity.
And even those without.
But that's not all.
It seems that the vampires are being led by the aforementioned Black Hat who, after the vampire queen took a shine to him is now the first ever human/vampire hybrid.
But that's not all.
It turns out that the priests niece is actually his daughter, his sister-in-law is really his ex-girlfriend and Hicks has been secretly dating Lucy behind her dads (now uncles) back.
Got all that?
Because Black Hat knows all of this and is hoping to use poor Lucy as bait to capture the priest.
Before firing his vampy man-muck over her pert white breasts obviously.
Will Paul the Priest save his daughter?
Will Maggie Q ever pick a good role?
Will the audience see the irony of Bill Compton getting killed by vampires?
And will Bettany's career nosedive get any worse?
CGI laden, clunkily dialogued and butchered to just the basics, Scott Stewart's (incredibly loose) adaptation of Min-Woo Hyung’s Korean graphic novels throws out the main character of Vascar De Gullion and the backstory featuring humanity's battle against the 12 fallen angels and instead replaces all this with generic slo-mo action scenes, cartoony vampires and sets straight out of Blade Runner all lovingly cut to a pompous orchestral score that takes itself about 3 times as seriously as the film does.
That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, Bettany's always worth a giggle and seeing him face of against Neighbours Jim Robinson is worth a few quid in anyones books but it all ends up looking and feeling like a lacklustre pilot for a SyFy channel series.
Albiet with a slightly larger costume budget than normal.
Whilst nowhere near as sphincter squeezing as Legion and far more entertaining than the Kurt Russell abomination Soldier (the film this most resembles) praising it is a wee bit like attempting to decide whether to have dry anal sex with your granny or your auntie.
Saying that tho' it's probably worth a look just to see what former Twin Peaks hottie Madchen Amick has done to her face in the intervening years.
Now that is truly horrifying.